For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing it is the gift of God, not results of works, so that no one may boast. For we are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Restful work? Right….as a mother of 4 kids under 7 I don’t even know why I am typing that. Restful work. Some times I’d like to shout expletives at people who talk like that. Or just laugh at them. It’s because it makes zero sense to me. Its counter intuitive. It does not work in our world. But that’s also what makes restful work , vocation, God’s work within you, good works, whatever you want to call it, beautiful.
Those things that we do for our neighbor it has so little to do with us and so much to do with the work of God through us.
I could spend a life time picking through the law. A list could be created that would break the internet if it was uploaded because it would be because it is so extensive, the things the law requires of us. Here is the beautiful part. A perfect God took on our flesh and fulfilled that list for you. He finished that list and then became our sins. For me he became the selfish mother who resents the gift of motherhood, he became the girl pregnant after Oktoberfest, he became the wife who resents her husbands job because it messes with HER schedule, he became the women’s ministry leader who withholds gospel grace. That list is much more extensive list but I really don’t to settle on that. On the cross or what is sometimes called the great exchange he took on those identities. He who knew no sin became sin for us. That’s love. He is love.
As I write or speak about the gospel it brings tears to my eyes because of the beauty and love it holds. But there are times I still want to get that list uploaded if not to the internet but at least in my own head. I could be the people Paul is writing to when he warns against desiring to fulfill it all on our own. After he lays our the beauty of the gospel he warns them about the desire to upload the law onto everyone and everything. “But avoid foolish quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” (Titus 3:9)
What does this have to do with our jobs, the positions we are in, the people we are, the work we do? Everything. The gospel is not a look what God has done for you now go do for him. The gospel is look what Jesus has done for you, just look. You are His and he is already working through you to serve your neighbor. You may not see it, others may not see it but God is at work.
“As theologian Gustaf Wingren puts it, “God does not need our Good works, but our neighbor does.” -(Veith, God at Work). God does not need our good works but in is infinite creativity he uses them to provide for our neighbor.
If my words have you completely confused I’ll leave you with a quote from Gene Edward Veith Jr. in his book God at Work.
“That is to say, for Luther, vocation is not just a matter of Law-though this is a part of vocation that neither Luther nor this book will neglect; rather, above all, vocation is a matter of Gospel, a manifestation of God’s actions, not our own. In this sense, vocation is not another burden placed upon us, something else to fail at, but a realm in which we can experience God’s love and grace, both in the blessings we receive from others and in the way God, is working through us despite our failures.
Luther goes so far as to say that vocation is a mask of God. That is, God hides Himself in the workplace, the family, the Church, and the seemingly secular society. To speak of God being hidden is a way of describing HIs presence, as when a child hiding in the room is there, just not seen. To realize that the mundane activities that take up most of our lives-going to work, taking the kids to soccer practice, picking up a few things at the store, going to church-are hiding places for God can be a revelation in itself. Most people seek God in mystical experiences, spectacular miracles, and extraordinary acts they have to do. To find Him in vocation brings Him, literally, down to earth, makes us see how close He really is to us, and transfigures everyday life.”
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us rightly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trust worthy saying, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people